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No need for equalization payments for Alberta: economist

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CALGARY (660 NEWS) – While Quebec is set to receive $13 billion in equalization payments next year, many Albertans are scratching their head over no money for the province.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau recently released the numbers for the next two years of equalization payments with Quebec receiving a $1.4 billion boost while Alberta and Ontario won’t receive any payments for 2019 and 2020.

While many Conservative politicians believe this move is shunning Alberta from the rest of the country economist with the University of Calgary, Trevor Tombe, said that’s not the case.

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“We are the highest income province by far so there’s no claim for us to be receiving equalization dollars. I think a lot of Albertans look at the provincial budget and see a large deficit here, and then they look out east and see provinces such as Quebec that don’t have similarly large deficits.”

Tombe said that equalization payments are transferring funds to provinces with weaker economies and is not based on provincial budgets.

The equalization payment formula is revisited every five years and is usually negotiated by the provinces and the Federal Finance Minister. However, Tombe said that those negotiations didn’t happen this year.

While there does appear to be confusion around equalization payments for Albertans, Tombe said he understands where a lot of the opposition comes from.

“It’s less about the formula, and it’s more about people’s broader impressions of whether the Federal Government is adequately addressing challenges that Alberta faces. Quebec’s opposition to pipelines, for example, Energy East, it’s frustrating to some Albertans.”